(The Center Square) – While diesel fuel production is expected to increase, there isn’t much hope the price will decrease.
The price of regular gas ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday travel season has come down. The average in Illinois is $3.97 a gallon, higher than the national average of $3.63. Illinois’ average is down from last month’s $4.24 average, but still higher than last year’s $3.57 average.
Diesel, used for everything from school buses to big rigs and freight trains, is at $5.26 in Illinois, up from $3.63 a year ago.
Mid-West Truckers Association Executive Vice President Don Schaefer said the higher costs to move things is compounding.
“Trucking companies for example have to put a fuel surcharge on their price for moving goods and services, which then is passed through to the consumer so they’re going to pay for it,” Schaefer told WMAY. “All the stuff at the grocery store has a higher cost related to transportation. Stuff you go to the mall, you buy stuff at the stores, the same thing, it’s got to be moved by truck so the costs are going to go up.”
The nation’s diesel supply is flirting with record lows. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports 26.6 days of diesel fuel in reserves. That's up from 25.4 in October, which was nearly the lowest it’s been since the supply dropped to 21.8 days in February 2003.
“They call it ‘vulnerably stable’ and that’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard it,” Schaefer said. “The fact is that demand is up, supplies are down. We’ve had issues with a couple of refineries that all they do is produce diesel fuel and they’ve been shut down. They’re coming back up.”
While production is expected to increase, Schaefer doesn’t expect the price to decrease.
“Diesel prices, they’ll stay above $5 for the rest of the winter,” Schaefer said. “Gasoline prices, they’ll stay up. Heating oil prices will go up even more.”